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German Justice Minister wants to regulate Facebook more closely

Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) wants to regulate Facebook more closely in view of the reports on questionable business practices.

Berlin - "The latest revelations about Facebook show how urgently we need strong and effective regulation of social networks in Europe," she told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. "In a united Europe, it affects us all when social networks with their algorithms intensify hatred and agitation and promote undesirable political and social developments." In addition, one must "state that appeals to a sense of responsibility and self-regulation of the network are of no avail and that profit interests are put in doubt over social responsibility".

Lambrecht added: "In view of the market power and the social relevance of the large tech companies, this is unacceptable." It is "therefore important to put reins on Facebook & Co. and tighten them tightly".

The SPD politician referred to the draft for a Digital Services Act (DSA) of the EU Commission, which, among other things, provides for special duties of care for very large online platforms. These would be obliged to carry out a risk assessment of all significant systemic risks at least once a year and to take measures to reduce the risk. In addition, they should present the recommendation systems used transparently.

However, these regulations did not go far enough, said Lambrecht. "One root of the evil is that online platforms are using personalized advertising, relying on the attention economy model that is producing the excesses that have now been identified." They want users "to be able to use the services without personalized advertising and that personalized advertising for minors is forbidden," said the minister.

For criminal agitation, binding rules with short reaction times are necessary - and in severe cases also reporting obligations to the law enforcement authorities. Facebook had recently come under pressure again after allegations by a former employee and a failure of its services. According to the whistleblower Frances Haugens, the corporation puts profits above the safety and well-being of its users. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg opposed this vigorously. "That's just not true," he wrote in an email to staff.

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